"I was wrong..."
by Alexander Kushner
(translated from Russian by Vladimir Golstein and Jill Pearlman)

  1. I was wrong when I said that poems
  2. Were more important than biography.
  3. That the word survives the image of a poet.
  4. Look at the story of Orpheus.
  5. Fate treated him harshly. Yet his pain
  6. Was more precious than two or three lines,
  7. That mothers' boys or fathers' girls
  8. Would later memorize to impress.
  9. Not a single line survived, and that's fine.
  10. The stalactites hang, like tears, like grief, like frost.
  11. In short, if you want to survive in thoughts
  12. And hearts, look back as you walk through hell,
  13. Fall down as your duel pistol drops in the snow,
  14. Or shoot yourself. Let the chorus survive.
  15. And verse? Well, it’s a different game:
  16. Professional and disinterested.
Packingtown Review – Vol.14, Fall 2020

Alexander Kushner is one of the finest St. Petersburg poets, born in the city, known then as Leningrad, in 1936. From 1966, he published about fifteen collections of his poetry and two books of his essays. Josef Brodsky called Kushner “one of the best lyrical poets of the twentieth century.” Two collections of Kushner's poetry have been translated in English and published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Vladimir Golstein is the Associate Professor of Slavic Studies and the Chair of the Department of Slavic Studies at Brown University. He is the author and co-author of books on Mikhail Lermontov, Feodor Dostoevsky and Svetlana Aleksievich, as well as numerous articles that cover all aspects of Russian fiction, poetry, and film.

Jill Pearlman is a poet and a journalist. Her poetry appears in Salamander, Barrow Street, Via Negativa, and elsewhere. With Vladimir Golstein, she translated and published several poems of Marina Tsvetaeva (The Other Shore, Vol. 2, 2011) and Sophia Parnok (Inventory, #3, 2012). Her webiste is jillpearlman.com.

  1. Suhasini Yeeda
    Not Unlike His Ownfiction